Earlier this year, US Lacrosse’s annual participation survey indicated that the number of youth players, nationwide, had topped 450,000 for the first time ever and that based on its collected data, lacrosse remains the fastest-growing team sport at the high school and collegiate levels.
Further evidence of this growth came last week when the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), which oversees all high school athletics throughout the state, announced that lacrosse had the largest percentage increase over the previous year among both girls and boys in California.
Specifically, between 2016 and 2017, girls’ participation grew 12.4% and boys’ participation grew 3.3%. Together, there were 1,245 more boys’ and girls’ lacrosse players in 2017, a combined increase of 7.4%.
Specific reasons cited for the rapid growth of the game in California were increased visibility and the growing concern about concussions and other major injuries associated with alternate sports, primarily football.
One high school boys’ player quoted in the KXTV reports says, “Since lacrosse isn’t head to head contact, you have the relief that you’re not going to have [traumatic brain injury].”
Lacrosse is generally considered to be a moderate risk sport in which the vast majority of injuries are minor strains, sprains, and bruises. US Lacrosse promotes a holistic approach to game safety that features multiple components, including certified coaches with sport-specific education, the use of trained and certified officials, mandated use of age-appropriate rules, and properly fitted protective equipment.
The recent participation report in California is consistent with findings from around the country. Over the last five years, the number of schools nationwide sponsoring lacrosse at the high school level has risen 27 percent.
Since US Lacrosse first surveyed national lacrosse participation in 2001, the number of players has grown from just over 250,000 to the current total of 826,023, an increase of over 225 percent over a 15-year time frame.